Thursday, January 20, 2005

She Stands in the Pulpit

a result of a conservative childhood, in a denomination that does not ordain women

She stands in the pulpit,
A fraud and she hopes that no one notices.
A fake, a charlatan, a pretender
A counterfeit ecclesiastic,
Not part of the gentrified male society that constitutes the priesthood.

She stands there with her people expectant, waiting.
Her unclean blood staining her hands
As she handles the Word,
The stains, rust colored and dried, flake off onto the burnished wood.
Suddenly her perspective shifts, and her world has skewed off its’ axis.

She stands there as if she were offal being placed on the communion table,
Unholy and unsanctified, abhorrent and odious.
Worth nothing of value, not meriting sacrifice.
Her sin condemns her and cannot be sent away for
There would never be sufficent scarlet wool or a wilderness large enough.

Self-loathing was consumes her.
The ache of it makes her voice and hands shake.
All around her are the acres of green carpet, the rustle of paper,
Small coughs to clear throats, the cry of a baby.
She brushes at the dried blood.

She stands there her eyes closed and breathes – “God help me through this.”
And she remembers His blood, and the sin, the suffering, the sacrifice.
She remembers the empty tomb and the resurrection.
The stains that are the most detestable will be as if they never were,
All is forgiven, they will be no more.

She breathes and in the depth of the second breath, she remembers –
Mary at the empty tomb -- all
The women at the tomb, the woman at the well
And the woman who begged for the crumbs.
He knew women, he loved women, he cared for women.
He cares for her.

She breathes
She breathes deeply and looks out among His people.
Filled with the Breath, she can look out with assurance.
Her hands no longer shake as
She opens the book and proclaims:
“The Word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.”

8 comments:

Preacher Mom said...

Beautiful! Thank you.

reverendmother said...

There are some lovely images here. Thank you.

[At the risk of a stunning oversimplification] This kind of vulnerability is one of the gifts women bring to the pastoral vocation. (Some men too.)

It's interesting, I grew up in a convervative denomination as well--actually two, at different times, Catholic and Southern Baptist. (Issues, I have issues... tap dance) But it had a different effect on me. The first time I got up to preach was like a giant "fuck you" to all those voices who said someone like me Couldn't Do That.

Wow, I don't normally (ever!) use that word. And I don't really harbor any deep resentment towards the people of my childhood--deeply loving and committed people. But truly, it was like, "I can't, can't I? You just watch me."

C. Fish said...

What a beautiful poem and a beautiful statement.

How could he not have revered women, as we all know he adored his mother. A woman was who he showed himself to first after resurrection...Yes He loved women and still does.

Very beautiful.

friend said...

I've seen her too standing outside the temple,
not even able to see the red curtain
take the walk up the steps,
and I've seen the lazy men,
waiting for God's kingdom to come,
and thank God Ms. Theresa,
humbly stormed the gates,
wrapping the curtain torn in two
around the wounds of the men,
who were lying dying and destitute...
women will arise to hold their men up,
when all their courage and strength have gone,
and when those same men stand tall and proud,
they will quietly find another place to make right,
all that is is broken and in need of
the mysterious ways.
This is the mother's milk
in the Grapes of Wrath.

steph said...

This is like fresh mountain run off water to the thawing winter encased parts of my heart and soul.
Thank you.

Songbird said...

Wow, lovely.
My background is Southern Baptist. How can it be that the same church in which I so keenly felt the love of Jesus expressed through the caring of my teachers, minister and his wife, and really everyone around me, could also have been a place where my call would not have been affirmed? I had grown up and gone away and never had to confront the issue with those people, but I sometimes wonder what they would think of little Martha Spong, standing up to preach the word. Would they shudder? Would they draw a distinction between this vocation and any other? The minister's daughter I grew up with is a psychologist. Is that woman's work, and is ministry not?
And yet, and yet, it was in that place that I heard whatever made me think that we were all equal in God's sight. Someone must have slipped up...thanks be to God!

osray said...

Almost every important event that happened since Adam, God seemed to work through a woman. I love the story of Hannah.... God is both male and female. That is the whole upshoot in the mideast today, keeping the women under subjection. We are all created after his own image and likeness. Carry on!

St. Casserole said...

Thank you!